The majority of Asia’s cities are being constructed from private funding and by private labor. This has always been the case for so-called informal settlements. Recently, however, the newly acquired socioeconomic status, aspirations, and cultural horizons of the emergent professional and business middle classes in Asia have captured both popular imagination and critical academic attention. These classes are building their own urban spaces, with or without state intervention or support. To what extent can these trends be understood by drawing upon the existing Anglophone literature, which conventionally considers the global cities of Western Europe and North America as the leading edge of urban change and theorization? What can diverse empirical cases in Asia tell us about the global privatization of urban space? Arising from a workshop on the privatization of urban space in Asia, this Viewpoint article addresses four issues that arise from comparison of several Asian cases. More specifically, this work challenges Western-centered assumptions about the spatiotemporal origins of urban change; positions Asia at the leading edge of certain urban trends that may also be discerned elsewhere; questions the prior ‘public-ness’ implied by the term ‘privatization;’ and unravels the dystopianism of Anglophone academic treatment of privately owned, constructed, or regulated spaces.